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1/2 step tuning

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by nickis thebest, Nov 20, 2000.


  1. i play a lot of green day and i know mike tunes down 1/2 step on some songs. how do you tune down half a step? i have some kind of fender tuner with colored lights (not a needle). uh im also not too smart so
    please tell me what to do in a simple way.
     
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The easiest way is to use a chromatic tuner. Just tune to D# instead of E, G# instead of A, etc.
    If you use a guitar tuner w/ only six-note display tune your strings 50 cents below regular tuning (100 cent equal one half-tone e.g. D# to E) or tune by playing the first fret and tuning like w/ regular tuning.

    Hope I could help you.
     
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Another way to think of downtuning is to think in terms of flats. Tuning down one step would be from low to high: E flat, A flat, D flat and G flat. That is exactly what JMX said, because D sharp is E flat, but many of the guitar magazines use the "flat" terminology. The only reason I can think why they use the flat rather than the sharp is that in downtuning, you are "dropping" a half step, in this case, so dropping from E to E flat seems easier to think of than dropping from E flat to D sharp, even though they are exactly the same.

    I did have a classically trained musician argue with me one time that E flat and D sharp, for example, aren't the same. Well, they aren't notated the same, but his argument was that they don't even really sound the same. Well, I couldn't comprehend his reasoning, so maybe some of the experts on theory can explain it in another thread.

    Also, I endorse JMX' suggestion to use a chromatic tuner which gives every step of the chromatic scale. Korg does make a tuner that will tune in standard or in flat. However, if you want to tune down even further such as a whole step or more, the chromatic tuner is a great assistance.

    Jason Oldsted
     
  4. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    Quote "E flat and D sharp, for example, aren't the same. Well, they aren't notated the same, but his argument was that they don't even really sound the same. Well, I couldn't comprehend his reasoning, so maybe some of the experts on theory can explain it in another thread."





    I am not an expert, or even particularly clued up about theory. That is why I am trying to answer the question as my simple understanding might be helpful - sorry if it aint! There are an infinite number of notes (try playing a fretless bass - lol) but the western scale uses just 12 of them (In India they use around 23 notes called srutris). Now, Eb and D# are different because it would go D, D#, Eb, E in a true scale, but due to us using just 12 notes, the D# ends up a little sharper and the Eb ends up a little flatter and so the same fret, key etc will play both notes. As another example, there is no C flat in a western scale, but there is the note, between C and B, sing a B then sing a C and then sing a note in between them, it's just that we don't use it in melodies or scales or chords or even notate it on the music stave! So, to clarify, in practical western application, D# and Eb are the same, but in theory, they are not!

    BTW it's possible I'm wrong (yes, it does happen every so often - ha ha) so if anyone can confirm or deny it would be appreciated.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's to do with the fact that the West went over to "Equal Temperament" and this is in fact a compromise to allow keyboard instruments to be roughly in tune across the whole keyboard, in any key. Otherwise some keys would sound "wrong". Try this link to see the physics :

    http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/scales.html

    I have discussed this with a trombonist friend who has played in orchestras and he tells me that you can play a D# differently to an Eb, for example. Fretted instruments also adopt the compromise in tuning that now seems like second nature to us, but isn't used all over the world.

    I saw a TV documentary about this and one of the last places to maintain a different tuning is Japan, where the classical tradition includes the differences, but the younger generation have heard so much Western music now that Japanese music sounds odd to their ears as well and it is in danger of dying out. Sort of like "Cultural Imperialism" !
     
  6. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    Thanks Bruce, nicely explained, "Equal Temperament" is the key to understanding isn't it? All the notes in a western scale are the same distance from each either side, right? This is what Bach was demonstrating in "A Well-Tempered Clavier". We adopt this tuning so all scales can be played on an instrument without the need for hundreds of frets, valves etc or without the need for constant different tuning. Have I understood this?
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sounds like it - the temperament or tuning based on the more natural intervals is called "just temperament". If you played a piece based on this then F# would sound quite different to Gb, for example.
     
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Ah, now I see! On a fretless bass, Eb and D# might, indeed, have a different sound...if you have excellent hearing acuity. I have to defer, then, to the musician who told me they are different, because he was trained on upright bass, an unfretted instrument. So I can see the logic of his statement, now, when I never really understood it before. On a fretted bass, however, it might be far harder to determine exactly how to play a D# or Eb.

    I'm also thinking, on a piano, for example, it would be even harder or impossible, because Eb and D# are the same black key on the keyboard and there is no easy way to "slide" the sound made when that black key is struck to make a slight difference between the two. (Although, I bet, with some new digital technology it could be possible to strike a slightly different sounding D# and Eb...if anyone felt the difference would be noticeable to any but the best ear trained few with perfect pitch. (I envy them.)

    Thanks, guys, for showing me how the diference can be played on fretless instruments.

    Jason Oldsted
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well Roland are making keyboards now that can play different "Temperaments" - this is one of the features in their ad campaign - but pianos and virtually all "normal" keyboards can only play "Equal Temperament" - so if you try playing in "Just Temperament" in a band with a pianist you'll just sound out of tune!!

    It's probably not a good idea to go for the micro tonalities on fretless bass either, as it will just clash with the vast majority of instruments - piano, guitar, sax etc. , but I think Michael Manring does this in his solo bass work on fretless.
     
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  11. Nate Dawg

    Nate Dawg

    Apr 8, 2000
    Denver, CO
    Hey Bruce-

    I recognized the link you posted as belonging to my current Physics professor at Michigan Technological University, Dr. Brian Suits. I was surprised to see a link to one of his pages on this forum.

    I have to mention that just because Physics relates to music (among MANY other things), this doesn't mean that I enjoy learning about it... ;)

    -Nate
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I found out about Just and Equal temperament from people at the Jazz Summerschool I attended and more recently there was a programme about this on TV in the UK.

    But I didn't wnat to rely entirely on my memory, so found the Physics stuff, by looking in a search engine - I use Google.

    The Warwick bass looks interesting - presumably you play different notes depending on what the interval is in the particular key.
     
  13. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You can even take a listen...if you find this record:

    Steel Blue - Steel Blue

    John Catler - Just intonation and fretless guitar, voc.
    Hansford Rowe - J.I. and fretless bass, voc.
    Lionel Cordew - drums, voc.
    Elizabeth Pressman - voc.
    Michael Rosenman - voc.

    1993, Koch International CD 34101-2 H1

    LC 5680

    <b><i>'Steel Blue uses their own tuning system derived from just intonation and based on the natural harmonic series of undertones and overtones up to a 13-limit'
     
  14. Um, if you just want to tune to Eb (for the E string), put your finger on the first fret and tune your bass to E. So that when your finger is on the first fret of E (F), and you pluck the string, your tuner says E. Therefore, when you pluck the open string, it will be a half step lower (1 fret=half step). Making it Eb

    [Edited by ThePaste on 12-27-2000 at 12:16 PM]
     
  15. dave_whitefield

    dave_whitefield

    Feb 21, 2009
    For half step bass tuning you want your strings thickest to finest to be tuned to,
    Eb, Ab, Db. Gb
    use the site
    http://www.play-bass.com for its online bass tuner.
    I think green day use this tuning a lot as it suits Billy Joe's voice better.
     
  16. I think OP probably figured it out by now.
     
  17. dave_whitefield

    dave_whitefield

    Feb 21, 2009
    Lmao
    You are probably right lemur821, I did not realize it was posted in 2000. Sometimes with forums I forget to check the dates of posts. Hey, you never know he still might be trying to figure out out how to tune that bass.
     
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

  19. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    I hope not!
    :D
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    Yeah by now, he has probably grown up and had his own kids - will soon be getting into Jazz...:p